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MAKING EXCUSES: Simon Crean questions links between iron ore negotiations and arrest of Stern Hu

creanchina China has only itself to blame for the stink created by its arrest of a highly respected Australian Rio Tinto executive for what is at best a selective prosecution and at worst nothing less than a declaration of economic war against his country, Australia.

It is just one of many PR catastrophes the PRC government has embroiled itself in. They think they’re slick. But they inevitably seem to slip over.

It is true to say that we do not know all the facts surrounding Stern Hu’s detention.

But we do know that he has been Rio Tinto’s lead negotiator on iron ore pricing in China. And we know that China has been pushing for a deep cut in this year’s contracts after previous years of considerable price increases.

We know that our iron ore makes the steel that literally is building China up from third world status to one of the world’s largest and most rapidly expanding economies.

Their pre-occupation – understandably – has been to secure control of sources of raw materials like these to allow their development to continue. Nothing wrong with that. They understandably prefer to deal with markets like Australian than Zimbabwe or Sudan but they’ve demonstrated a willingness to do business with anyone regardless of the circumstances as long as the price is right.

We don’t question China’s right to pursue its own self-interest. But because there is no real rule of law, no democratic freedoms, no genuine protection for personal property or civil rights, it is inevitable that China will pursue its interests in a way that the rest of the world can rightly describe as thuggish, brutal and corrupt.

So the challenge for Australian ministers representing us in such a place is to be polite but never to kow-tow. Never to make excuses for a regime of evil and a government that exists without the consent of the people.

And it certainly appeared as though Minister for Trade Simon Crean crossed that line today. The ABC’s AM programme isn’t beyond fitting him or others up and quoting selectively but listen to Crean’s own words of apologia for the regime where he basically says no-one knows the truth about what Stern Hu did or didn’t do so no-one should say anything.

That’s true. But there’s a greater truth, as we’ve outlined above. The Chinese regime might sit on great riches but it’s dirty money.

Indeed, the AM broadcast made clear the Minister’s own media adviser even did the dirty work of the Chinese by discouraging ABC journalists from asking questions of Chinese officials. Whatever the complexities of promoting trade with a country whose government enjoys a moral bankruptcy unrivalled in the world, that is completely outrageous.

If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall over pretty quickly when the first ethical gust heads your way. In what bizarre world do ALP staffers side with Chinese government officials to stop the ABC doing their job by asking a few questions of those who’ve benefited from the arrest of Stern Hu?

It’s well worth listening to this outrageous effort.


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  1. If this is the ALP’s idea of a warm relationship with China. God help us!!!

    Posted by God help us | July 15, 2009, 15:18
  2. Simon and Kev,

    Where is Joel Fizgibbon when you need help with the Chinese? He’d surely have a few credits~!

    Posted by Anon | July 15, 2009, 15:30
  3. Another politician with no politics.

    And he’s a total snoozer.

    Posted by tsk tsk | July 15, 2009, 16:34
  4. If it was a chinaman held here there would be all kinds of threats from the PRC politburo and sabre rattling.

    Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2009, 18:04
  5. What a total disgrace, our politicians should be seriously embarassed.

    China is clearly not to be trusted!

    Posted by Outraged | July 15, 2009, 20:52
  6. And they asked some guy to justify why he is showing a film on Uyghurs. He said he didn’t have too and the cultural attache in Melbourne went ballistic. The Chinese really have a lot to learn!

    Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2009, 21:16
  7. did you see that pro-Amerika c*** Rudd on the box tonight?Threatening the CCCP?Whats next?A gunboat up the Yangtze?
    F*ck Stern hu .Ive told you tossers stick with Hu Jintao……hmmmm,might even get restored one day-Mosley style

    Posted by Ghost of Latham. | July 15, 2009, 23:32
  8. What are human rights? Are they the things which appear on the back of serial boxes? No, they cant be – serial boxes are made in China.

    Seriously, when are our officials going to realise? China is mobilising resources to become the next superpower – and it couldn’t give a hoot who stands in its way. It doesn’t have liberal traditions, rather socialisitic, totalitarian values.

    Australia’s role as a middle power should be to push the line of greater civil liberties in China. And forget about our economic consequences. It will need our resources – so lets be more assertive.

    Posted by Anon | July 16, 2009, 8:30
  9. Totalarian – that is all.

    Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2009, 9:41
  10. And I thought the Manchurian Candidate was just a movie; Simon Crean’s behaviour indicates otherwise. Where is Mr Crean’s next stop after China? Will he pop in and see the nice folks in charge of North Korea and tell them they’re doing a swell job?

    Posted by Rudd Happens | July 16, 2009, 12:20
  11. Is this CHINA’s Haneef.

    Persecution and prosecution for the benefit of a corrupt government.

    Perhaps the Chinese like our terror laws and this is their reply

    Posted by hopeless | July 16, 2009, 14:14
  12. Right, Stern Hu was very HONEST! Did nothing wrong at all in the corrupt Chinese steel industry to merit this.


    The West is clean as a whistle. Not even when they arrest Chinese students whom unknowingly copy some western companies’ info to study at home as a Economic spy as well. Give me a break with all these political crap

    Posted by Peter | July 20, 2009, 6:14